Last year, during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, a small group of oyster farmers in Tasmania were listening — and doing their bit to push for change at a local level.
- Tasmanian oyster farmers say their decision was in part due to customer feedback in the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement
- The Blackman Bay oyster growing area has been renamed Boomer Bay, but stays unchanged on maps
- The name change follows a raft of announced dual name changes
The South East Growers Group unanimously voted to change the name of its growing area — from Blackman Bay to Boomer Bay — after concerns were raised by customers overseas that it had racial connotations.
The president of the South East Growers Group Ellen Duke said it was not just customers who felt the change was needed.
Six different companies farm oysters in the Blackman Bay waterway, with the registered growing area name appearing on export documents, health certificates, invoice labelling and oyster packaging heading interstate and overseas.
“[For] quite a number of years, discussion has been that some of our export markets where we would like to be selling our oysters might not find it appropriate,” oyster farmer Ben Cameron said.
James Calvert, managing director of Tasmanian Oysters, said feedback had come from clients in Japan, Hong Kong and China.
“This negative feedback just kept coming and coming as the Black Lives Matter [movement] grew.
“That’s when we said we need some time to reflect on this, understand the issues and be a bit more respectful.”
Overseas product rebranded
The group went to the Tasmanian government with a request to change the ‘growing area name’ and eventually had success.
“I think importantly the name of the bay doesn’t change on any of the maps, that is outside our control but what we can control is how we refer to the area in terms of all of our marketing and sales, what name goes on the bags of oysters,” Ben Cameron said.
Farmer Max Cunningham says the change has been on the cards for a long time but really gained impetus as the Black Lives Matter sentiment spread.
The name change means there are three different growing areas within that bay — Boomer Bay, Little Boomer Bay and Boomer Bay East.
“You should be able to go to a restaurant anywhere in Australia and they should be able to tell you where your oysters came from, lease number and growing area — lease 255 Boomer Bay … was once 255 Blackman Bay,” Mr Cunningham said.
According to historical documents Abel Tasman named the waterway Blackman Bay in 1642 when he saw evidence of people living on its shores.
Another win for Aboriginal communities
The local Parrdarrama Pungenna Aboriginal Corporation is happy the community is having the conversation.
It has won several official map changes in recent days, with two key places winning approval for joint names.
Eaglehawk Neck will now have a joint Aboriginal name Teralina and the Tasman Peninsula will have the joint Aboriginal name Turrakana.
The corporation’s secretary Peter Macdonald said it meant a lot to the community.
“We’re very pleased the dual names have gone through and that language from our people is being used in the names,” Mr Macdonald said.
Visit the registry of all official Tasmanian names at the Placenames Tasmania website.